Summary: Kyle McGinley has reached the end of his rope. On his way to yet another foster home since his dad abandoned him when he was a kid, he takes a vow of silence in an effort to regain some control. Along with the silence comes Ingen, an imaginary friend of sorts who acts as a counter to the negative voice of his father in his head. His new foster parents, Scott and Jill, provide an understanding environment for Kyle to work out his issues, especially when his father decides to come back into his life. Like the injured crow they take in, Kyle starts to heal and become more confident, but when his father comes around he must speak up for himself once and for all.
Number of Pages: 198
Age Range: 14-16
Review: After I got into Jan Andrew’s style, I really loved The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley. At first I had trouble with Kyle’s silence and the voices in his head, because it was difficult to keep things straight but it was just something I needed to adjust to.
The best part about this book were the relationships with animals. Despite being abused by his father, Kyle has an open heart that remains vulnerable and able to love. When the little crow comes to stay, he immediately attaches to her, wanting to do everything he can to help her fly again. It’s because he sees a bit of himself and his experiences in her, and the friendship and trust that develops between them helps them both. It’s touching and beautiful, as well as being a lovely example of the healing power of animals.
What sets this book apart from other books about foster kids are Scott and Jill, Kyle’s foster parents. I love how they are consistent in their care and give Kyle quite a bit of leeway to work things out. If he had been more restricted by authority, I believe it would have turned out badly for him. Instead, Scott and Jill let Kyle know that his anger has the right to be expressed because they, too, have personal experience with family issues. They’re a great fit, and finally Kyle has a chance at a healthy, supportive family environment.
I don’t want to wreck the ending, but I will say this is a worthwhile read about one teen’s imaginative journey to healing through love and creativity.
“Big thing about dogs is not to get too fond of them. I found that out the hard way. Dogs are tougher to leave than people. A whole lot tougher in fact.” – Kyle from The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley by Jan Andrews, page 12
“That’s it, isn’t it? She was dumped off, she was left, she was abandoned, she was on a doorstep like I was. She’s frightened. Frightened as hell. I know what I’d do if I could. I’d pick her up. I’d hold her. I’d tell her everything’ll be all right.” – Kyle from The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley by Jan Andrews, page 78
“‘I know you’re not going to want to hear this but the fact is sometimes they just give up. Nobody knows why. We do our best. We do our best always. Sometimes it’s just not enough. We come out. They’re dead. There’s nothing we can do about it. You should be prepared for that. It’ll help you.'” – Jill from The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley by Jan Andrews, page 88
“Little crow, I’ll cluck my heart out if that’s what you’re wanting. I’ll pok from here to the ends of the earth.” – Kyle from The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley by Jan Andrews, page 113
“I stare down the laneway even harder. I know. My dad… It’ll never stop hurting. I’ll never not want it to be different. That’s not ‘rational’ either. But it is how it is.” – Kyle from The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley by Jan Andrews, page 197